Guidelines for Depression Screening among Teenagers Revised

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. pediatrician / ˌpi di əˈtrɪʃ ən, ˌpɛd i- / (n) – a doctor who specializes in treating babies or children

    The pediatrician is checking the baby’s breathing.

  2. reluctant / rɪˈlʌk tənt / (adj) – not willing or doubtful about doing something

    He was reluctant to admit his mistakes.

  3. undiagnosed / ˌindaɪ əgˌˈnoʊzd / (adj) – not given diagnosis

    Your symptoms will remain undiagnosed if you don’t get a checkup.

  4. on the rise / ɒn ðə raɪz / (idiom) – increasing

    Medicine prices are currently on the rise.

  5. bout / baʊt / (n) – a period of time when someone suffers from an illness or a medical condition

    He usually experiences frequent bouts of headache.


Read the text below.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently updated the guidelines for adolescent depression screening in primary care.

The original two-part guidelines were published in 2007. The first part covers suggestions on how primary care pediatricians can initially identify, assess, and manage depression among adolescents, while the second part provides recommendations on treatment and ongoing management of depression. But despite having these guidelines, pediatricians were still reluctant to diagnose adolescents due to the lack of training to accurately identify depression symptoms. Because of this, some depressed adolescents are left undiagnosed and untreated until they reach adulthood.

To address this problem, the AAP has revised the said guidelines this year. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the revised guidelines aim to equip pediatricians with knowledge on how to recognize and categorize depression symptoms.

Specifically, the revised guidelines recommend that pediatricians should annually screen adolescents starting from age 12 to 21. As part of the screening process, pediatricians will ask the patients to accomplish a detailed self-report form about depression symptoms. To ensure honesty among patients, pediatricians will also talk to them privately. Upon recognizing depression symptoms, pediatricians can either recommend treatments or endorse the patient to a mental health specialist.

Immediate diagnosis of depression is crucial because the number of depressed teenagers is currently on the rise. According to a research by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 3.1 million teens between the ages 12 to 17 in the United States suffered a serious bout of depression in 2016. The most common reasons why teens get depressed include academic pressure, high expectations from parents, and anxiety about their future.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Why is it important to update guidelines concerning mental health conditions? Explain.
• How often do you think these guidelines should be updated?

Discussion B

• Why is it important to promote awareness about mental health conditions?
• How can people be more aware of different mental health conditions?